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robert pfile Level 2 (155 points)

i have some astronomy-related software that only runs on windows. preferrably i will run this software under VirtualBox or VMware, but there is some indication that it will not run properly under a VM, and so i may need to use Boot Camp instead.


i understand that the OEM system builder licenses may only be installed on one computer. so if i find out that virtualization does not work, am i then dead in the water as far as installing the same license on boot camp?


i understand that VMware can actually boot from a Boot Camp partition, with some limitations. if i do this, is windows/microsoft going to think that the machine when booted under VMware is different than the machine booted under Boot Camp and refuse to run?


hopefully some people here have experience with this - thanks.

  • The hatter Level 9 (60,930 points)

    The answers are in the VMware Support FAQ and Wiki entry.


    If you want full access to RAM, cpu, hardware then run Windows natively.

    VMs are fine for some apps maybe Office and such but not anything like 3D or CS5.


    Considering we can't tell what you have now also limits this.

  • BobTheFisherman Level 6 (13,447 points)

    Install Windows once in Boot Camp. Then install a VM like Fusion or Parallels. Both these VMs allow you to select your Boot Camp installed Windows as the guest operating system. Windows is still only installed once, not once for the Boot Camp install and once for accing from a VM.


    The issue is when you access your single installation Windows from your VM Windows thinks it has een installed on another computer because the VM creates virtual hardware for Windows to use when accessed from the VM. This is not a big issue since you just use the Windows activation twice, once from within the Boot Camp installation and again after you access Windows for the first time from your VM. This is common and the activation is automated and painless. You will just receive another activation key. Microsoft realizes that you only have one installation of Windows and are accessing the single installation two ways.


    Parallels and Fusion explain this process on their respective web sites. By the way, VirtualBox VM does not provide this functionality.

  • robert pfile Level 2 (155 points)

    thanks for the reply - you are talking about VMWare's wiki on their support site? i will go look.


    the software in question is for camera control and is pretty basic in terms of what it needs from the operating system. no 3d, no graphics acceleration, no huge memory demands. in fact i think i need to use the 32-bit version of windows 7 due to a compatibility issue with a different piece of software that i might elect to run on windows.



  • robert pfile Level 2 (155 points)

    thanks Bob. right, the reason i was worried about this is that the HAL is different between Boot Camp and VMWare, etc. and so i figured that would trigger something with microsoft. but as you have explained it sounds like Redmond is cool with that since it's just a single installation.


    If i did this in the reverse order - first VMware into a virtual disk and then Boot Camp onto my hard disk, i'm assuming microsoft would consider this to be 2 computers and thus disallow activation of both... right?


    in the past having a clean image of fully installed/updated windows XP around was very helpful to me - in case the windows installation got all borked up all i had to do was delete the VM and copy in my clean image and start again. very easy to do since they are just files. however, if i do the boot camp route, this will be a little harder to do since i assume i have to make a copy of the boot camp partition somehow (and jump through some hoops in order to restore it if things go bad.)



  • The hatter Level 9 (60,930 points)

    Wikipedia articles on


    Sounds like a VM might be fine (Mac model helps to know what it is )


    It is hard to find anything that does not work on 64-bit Windows even if it is 32-bit app.

    There is close to zero need for 32-bit Windows OS at this point. they could drop it, it has poor memory management anyway.

  • BobTheFisherman Level 6 (13,447 points)

    To do this you have to install using Boot Camp first. Otherwise the VM does not have a Windows installation to use.


    Once you have a Windows installation just back up or create an image the same way you would with any Windows computer.

  • robert pfile Level 2 (155 points)

    well i should have stated that i have tried to run the software in question on VMware 3.x and the latest Virtual Box (running Windows XP SP3), and while it does work for a while eventually it encounters a USB error that does not happen when i run the software from the W7-64 bit laptop i am trying to replace.


    so there's some chance that it works okay on VMWare 4 (but seems doubtful since Virtual Box has the same problem), and there's some chance that it will work properly on a virtualized Windows 7, but i have to spend money to find out about either of these things. I don't have any reason to believe that it would not work right when Windows 7 is booted directly against the mac hardware, so that's my fallback strategy.


    as for 32-bit vs. 64- bit - it's really a driver problem with the Meade DSI camera. it bluescreens my windows 7 laptop sometimes and my understanding is that the x86_64 driver is broken. hence the desire to run 32-bit windows 7.


    the mac in question is the latest macbook air with core i7.

  • robert pfile Level 2 (155 points)

    well, in theory i could install windows 7 into a virutal disk on VMware first, right? that's how i always did it with windows XP.


    i want to avoid windows-based backup stuff since 1) i know nothing about windows, and 2) i know a lot about unix (all the way back to BSD 4.3) and macosx. using dd to copy the bootcamp partition would be no big deal for me, for instance, but i've never had to do it before in this context.

  • BobTheFisherman Level 6 (13,447 points)

    Not if you want to install once and use your Boot Camp Windows as the guest OS. If you install in the VM first, then if you want to install in Boot Camp that will be a second install. The other way around, Boot Camp install first, then you only have one install that you can access from Boot Camp directly or from your VM.


    You will back up your Boot Camped Windows the same as you would back up any OS and data. There are tools to do that. Windows 7 includes backup tools. There is no reason not to backup Windows and data from within Windows. You do this the same way you would back up your Windows and data if using a Windows PC. Why complicate things?

  • robert pfile Level 2 (155 points)

    why complicate things? control. using dd or some other tool to make a bit-for-bit copy of the partition is completely foolproof from the standpoint of a 100% absolutely clean restore, and i don't have to waste time learning about an OS that i'll never use for any other reason but astrophotography, and any single-use backup tools that i'll never use again...


    anyway thanks, i'm going to buy a W7 license with the confidence that i can switch between boot camp and vmware with one license.

  • TomsiPhone Level 1 (40 points)

    Fellas this is confusing me. I'm plotting to get an iMac 27 and running W7 on it as well as (eventually) Mountain Lion. If Boot Camp gives me full access to a W7HPx64 installation, why run it in a virtual machine under MacOS? Is this just for convenience/ease-of-access? Obviously I have zero (ZERO) experience with Boot Camp so any comments here are most welcome.

  • BobTheFisherman Level 6 (13,447 points)

    Convenience and ease of use. If running in a VM you do not have to reboot your computer when you want to switch from Windows to OSx or OSx to Windows. If running Windows only from a Boot Camp partition you will need to reboot your computer when you want to switch.


    If you will be running resource intensive programs it is better to run Windows in a Boot Camp partition since Windows will then use 100% of your computer's resources. If you are only using programs that do not require a lot of computing resources it is more convenient to only install Windows in a VM where Windows will share the computer's resources with OSx since they are both running at the same time.


    To take advantage of both situations, install Windows in a Boot Camp partition. If you are running a resource intensive program boot directly into Windows. If running a light weight program boot into OSx then use Windows from the VM without rebooting.

  • TomsiPhone Level 1 (40 points)

    BobTheFisherman wrote:


    Convenience and ease of use...


    Thanks a lot BTF I really appreciate your help! I suppose there will be instances too where a "hardware requirement of software" will demand a reboot to Boot Camp Windows but it will be nice to have options, with a single W7 license.


    Say, assuming that VirtualBox (which I'm using in Windows right now to play-around with Snow Leopard) and VMWare (dunno this one) are both freeware, are there any advantages to using one-over-the-other when running under Lion? Bob which one might you prefer?

  • BobTheFisherman Level 6 (13,447 points)

    VirtualBox does not allow selection of the Boot Camp installed Windows as its guest operating system. VMWare Fusion and Parallels do allow selection of the Boot Camp installed Windows as their respective guest operating system.


    VMWare Fusion and Parallels are not free. I prefer VMWare Fusion but both work well. Others here prefer Parallels.

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